Merlin [2011] (BBC) Season 4. 13 Episodes

Merlin, Merlin, Merlin… Why art thou such a roller coaster? Wouldst thou grant us two fully commendable seasons in a row? One was good. Two not as much. Season three bounced back. Following this pattern the fourth season has to dip. Does it buck the trend? Sadly, no. Still, Merlin season four has its moments and is not without fun, entertainment, and an almost fanatical devotion to the “evil twin” plot.

“Oh Arthur, thank you for marrying me in front of all these computer generated guests.”

“Strange that we never noticed this ginormous castle before…”

Fourth season in a sentence: After Uther more-or-less dies twice, Arthur ascends to the throne only to be blatantly (and obviously) manipulated by the evil vizier stereotype while Morgana hangs out in a woodland hut hatching overly elaborate plots, and Gaius narrowly avoids multiple deaths, the producers avoid special effects burning money instead on an expanded cast, and all the while Merlin meanders in a season more aptly named “Arthur and his Semi-Magic Footman.”

Oh look, Merlin used that aging potion again and as a cantankerous old man is forcing Arthur to carry him piggyback. Such hilarity.

Agravaine: Evil vizier stereotype. (Though you might not believe it from his TOTALLY innocent, “Arthur, you can trust me,” expression.)

An oldy but goody, the evil twin plot (in all its variants) is one of the most common, most overused, stock plots in history. The list of who does not have an evil twin this season would be shorter.

  • Gwen gets bewitched to the dark side and into an illicit rendezvous
  • Bad guys twist Merlin into becoming an assassin
  • An evil spirit possesses Sir Elyan turning him evil
  • A woman’s malevolent power turns Arthur’s knights against each other
  • Sir Lancelot is brought back from the dead–sort of–with sinister purpose

“Aren’t I handsome? Yes I–huh? I’m evil this season?”

(Star Trek was also an over-user of the evil twin plot. But the greatest abuser was the original Knight Rider series, where every star–including the car, had an evil twin.)

Michael Knight and evil twin Garth Knight: Ruining facial hair for good guys everywhere.

“What about me? I’m a real (and comely) princess. One whom Arthur naturally falls for. I would have made him a fitting wife. Alas, he decided to go with the serving wench who will eventually betray him.”

Note the Merlin cosplayer got the splayed fingers right. We noted that way back in season one. It’s Merlin’s secret weapon! See picture reposted below:

One of the (very) few non-force push magic battles. Old Merlin faced Morgana in the woods (where else) with a whirlwind.

Merlin season 4 may leave you asking the question, “What is magic?” If you answer that it is the ability to do a force push, you would be right. 98.2% of all the magic this season is pushing someone with an invisible force, and that’s it. A cop out. If we wanted that kind of supernatural phenomena, we would play a Star Wars game. Even Merlin’s final showdown with the evil vizier turned into just another force push, which may leave you asking the question, “Did that kill him?”

Hmmm… Where have we seen this shot before?

Yes… This pose is very familiar!

Great ghost of Nimueh! Morgana and Arthur are both… Seekers!?

With Sir Gwaine now a regular, and at least four knights in the permanent cast this season, money was obviously tight. No wonder there was no room for special effects. Instead we were treated to amusing antics. Oh those knights, so funny in their camaraderie. And where that was not sufficient to fill time, we were supposed be amused by more slapstick between Merlin and Arthur, often involving the latter being in some state of undress. Really producers? Has it come down to base fan girl pleasing?

“Listen carefully young warlock, with this season’s VFX budget, this will be our only conversation.”

Was it just us or was this “sword and the stone” scene rushed, convenient, and out of nowhere? “Look what I found in the woods!”

Katie McGrath’s winning jaw is as fine as ever, and even her acting is improving. However they gave her little to work with this season, which was still about 50% more than most characters barring Arthur. Just about everyone and their brother betrays Arthur this season (literally including Gwen and her brother Sir Elyan). No one said it was easy being king. And we must keep our minds from going to where we know this all ends after just a few short Golden Age of Camelot years. Something they hint at with a flash forward.

One just does not know how to take this flash forward, especially this season. Is it yet another use of the aging potion or some far flung future?

Who keeps building these things!?

Oh look, a romantically coupled pair of rogues with hearts of gold. That can mean only one thing. Tragedy.

Merlin originally surprised us with its fresh take. Though the seasons have been somewhat inconsistent, there have been just enough good episodes to keep us interested. However if next season is like this one, our interest may have to move on. Use the force Merlin! Uh, we mean that as a pep talk. Do not take us literally.

“What? No, it can’t end this way.” Yeah, the season ending also left us saying, “Huh?”.

Our Takes on all the Merlin Seasons:

Merlin [2008] Season 1

Merlin [2009] Season 2

Merlin [2010] Season 3

Merlin [2011] Season 4

Merlin [2011] Season 5



3 thoughts on “Merlin [2011] (BBC) Season 4. 13 Episodes

    • Ha ha, and thank you. We strive for some laughs here and are pleased you got a few.

      Yeah, people do not often think of Merlin in retirement. Just relaxing by the pool. Another image caught here makes him look more like Dumbledore. 😉

      Merlin or Dumbledore?

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